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Self-Build or Renovate?

One of the big questions you face when you are considering a new home is whether to self-build or to renovate an existing property.  There’s a lot of factors to consider for both options and ultimately, the choice is an entirely personal one. But let’s look at a few key considerations that might help you make up your mind.

Self-build – is it worth it?

Self-building has come on a long way in recent times and even people who aren’t builders or don’t work in the construction industry get involved with these projects.  That’s because there are many different options. You can self-build, you can project manage the self-build while contractors do the work, you can do certain jobs yourself and have contractors do the rest or you can even work with a company that creates the home and you oversees its erection.

There are also some strong reasons to consider self-building, especially if you have bought a run down property and want to see if it is worth restoring or just starting from scratch.  Modifications to an existing building are usually subject to VAT but new build projects come with zero VAT rates, meaning you can save money on the most.

By self-building, you can get the exact house you want (within building regulations of course) and this offers more freedom than renovating an existing property.  You can get the materials you want, the layout and also focus on things like energy efficiency. While the process initially is less ‘green’ due to the resourced used, the increase in energy efficiency and the incorporation of renewable energy sources, for instance, can make it an eco-friendly option in the long run.

When to renovate

And what about renovating the property?  When can this be the best option? Top of the list is if the property has architectural charm or merit.  You can’t completely recreate an authentic building so if there is something of the original home that you love, it may be worth considering renovating rather than demolish and self-build.

Sometimes the cost of renovating can be lower than demolishing and rebuilding a property, even if you want to make changes to the internal areas of the house.  It can also be easier to get planning permission to modify a building than to create a new one, although this isn’t set in stone. And there’s a ‘green’ vote towards renovating something although the energy efficiency issues


Can I afford to self-build?

One of the big questions around Self-build homes is whether you can afford to do it or not.  The question of cost is a variable one depending on lots of different factors including the specifications of the project, the location and the types of contractors that you will need.

There are some ballpark figures to help work things out.  For example, if you take the size of the home and multiply it by a general industry standard figure of £750 per square meter, this gives an idea.  So a home of 170 square metres would cost £127,500 for a standard specification, more if you wanted a higher spec style.

Then there are costs such as building materials, professional services and contractor fees which can vary greatly around the country.  Some examples of basic cost ideas include:

  • Design or architect fees – £2500
  • Building regulations – £450 per regulation
  • Planning permission – £265
  • Gas and electric supply to the property – £1000
  • Water supply to the property – £1000
  • Structural warranty – £1200

Other costs might include £300 for site surveys, £800 for site insurance and £300 for surveyor fees as well as legal costs.  You may also want to budget for landscaping around the property which can cost around £15,000. Finally, there’s the cost of Building Control to inspect the property which is usually around £500.

The biggest cost for any project will be the price of the land.  It is likely to cost around 30-40% of the total project depending on where you want to live with plots varying from £30,000 up to £200,000.  You also want to assess the land first before you commit to anything to make sure it is suitable for development – a site with a tree preservation order, for instance, could make for a complicated project.

Self-build experts

Often the key part of a self-build project is working with the right experts.  Whether this is to create an oak framed home or having someone design the renovation of the existing property, getting the right help is the best way to ensure success with your self-build home.